Thursday, December 4, 2014

Paper versus Digital: Why Most Magazine Apps Don't Cut It

I'm going to let you in on a little secret that seems to have eluded many of today's magazine publishers:

Paper and digital are not the same!

If this seems obvious to you, then you should ask yourself the following question: why are the majority of digital magazine apps simply taking print content and replicating it in digital versions? 

If you don't know what I mean, scroll through the Apple newsstand or download the Next Issue app. The majority of digital magazine apps are simply carbon-copies of publishers' print versions. Now, I don't know about you, but I didn't pay $400 for a new iPad only to have it deliver me the same functionality as a simple piece of paper. It's no wonder digital magazine apps are getting such bad press lately.

You may have seen another post of ours, where we talk about the importance of doing something unique with your branded digital magazine apps. The idea is to craft a universe around your brand by leveraging multiple points of engagement with your readers, each point offering something of unique value.

Here are some unique ways you can leverage your digital magazine app:

- Audio & video content with the ability to cache files for offline access
- Navigable resource guides
- Social media feeds and social sharing capabilities
- Personalized user interfaces and exclusive content targeted to specific reader interests
- Targeted push notifications
- Forums and user-generated content
- Interactive activities and guides
- Fully scrollable articles (ditch the 'digital flipbook')

Publishers need to scrap the "I need an app because everyone else is doing it" mentality. Simply having an app without thinking about the role that it will play within your larger brand structure will more than likely result in disappointment. Moreover, publishers need to get out of the print-production cycle mindset. If you want your brand to stand out, you need to be engaging your readers frequently with high-quality content over a variety of channels. Done the right way, a unique, branded digital magazine app can play an important role in this strategy.